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Clock Cycle

Clock Cycle (also known as clock period, clock tick, or simply a tick or a cycle) is the minimum time unit required to perform all the most basic operations in a synchronous circuit such as a value transfer between two buffers. The length of a single clock cycle is the time required for one complete clock pulse. It is the reciprocal of the clock speed.


The clock cycle is a fundamental part of all synchronous circuits which must accommodate the time taken for the longest critical path for all possible states in a circuit. In other words, it's usually the sum of all the wire and switching delay for the longest indivisible portion of the circuit. The clock cycle is usually a constant value, although various power management mechanisms can modulate it to achieve better performance and efficiency attributes.

The clock cycle is the reciprocal of the clock speed.

Equation clock cycle equals StartFraction 1 Over clock speed EndFraction

For example, a microprocessor operating at 1 GHz has a clock cycle of 1 ns.

Equation clock cycle equals StartFraction 1 Over 1 GHz EndFraction equals 1 n s

Relation to execution time[edit]

Main article: runtime

Thus, the length of time it takes to execute serialized code is directly related to the length of a clock cycle (or clock speed).

Equation execution time equals clock cycles for a code times clock cycle equals StartFraction clock cycles for a code Over clock speed EndFraction

See also[edit]

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